Welcome!

Mobile IoT Authors: Daniel Khan, Elizabeth White, Peter Silva, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan

News Feed Item

Storm Response and Organized Chaos: How Can Utilities Prepare and Plan for the Unpredictable?

NEW YORK, November 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

After the US east coast suffered through the worst storm in history, storm response is on everyone's mind. So how can utilities prepare and plan for the unpredictable? According to Jeff Lewis, expert in electric utility reliability at PA Consulting Group and ReliabilityOne[TM]program director, successful storm response is managed through "a combination of people, organization, process and technology."

How did the utilities do after Hurricane Sandy?

"According to our analysis of Hurricane Sandy, 5 of 10 utilities across the Tri-State area restored power to over 90% of their customers within seven days, whereas after Hurricane Irene all 10 utilities had restored at least 90% of customers within a week. This demonstrates the tremendous power and impact of Superstorm Sandy, which affected approximately seven million customers in the Tri-State area, compared to Irene which affected nearly four million," said Mr. Lewis.

Given the duration of this major event, Mr. Lewis added, "Customers, regulators and public officials are focused on the estimated time to restoration (ETR), which is when a customer can expect to have power. This is the single most important piece of information a utility can provide under these circumstances. For Hurricane Sandy, we observed eight out of 10 utilities achieved their respective system-wide ETR. Most utilities waited until three days after the storm before issuing an ETR so they could assess the damage.  Still, many utilities were criticized for not providing accurate ETRs at the local level. With temperatures dipping below freezing, customers want to know exactly when their power will be restored". The pressure on utilities reached a climax when New York's Governor Cuomo threatened to revoke the licenses of those utilities that failed to deliver.

For utilities, being strategic in the preparation and planning for major storms improves restoration times, minimizes risks to public safety, and enhances public perception of the utility, as the extreme weather impacts from Hurricanes Sandy and Irene over the past two years have shown.

Mr. Lewis, who has completed more than 100 reviews of electric reliability systems and processes that include emergency response plans for major events, noted that regulators are responding in an unprecedented manner, requiring utilities to improve all aspects of their restoration practices including: readiness, communications and outage reporting, and restoration.  

"A combination of people, organization, process and technology"

A robust pre-storm preparation will lay the foundation for a successful response to a major event.  

According to Mr. Lewis, this preparation should focus on "people, organization, process and technology":

  • People involves providing sufficient staffing coverage to meet the challenges, while ensuring workers are appropriately trained for safety and effectiveness
  • Organization involves the appropriate mix of centralized communications and decentralized restoration, whereby the utility mobilizes multiple storm response centers across its affected service region, with adequate backups and redundancies across all levels to deal with the unexpected
  • Process involves the effective and efficient performance of the entire operation including information flows and communications, logistic (e.g., accommodations and materials), damage assessment, packaging and prioritization of work, crew complement and dispatch, safety, and coordination of mutual aid.  
  • Technology involves the systems, tools, and equipment that facilitate the efficient restoration of customers and the effective communication of accurate information to all stakeholders.

People and Organization

When Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, Governor Christie urged utilities to make more progress and "throw out their playbooks," fast tracking discussions with FEMA to coordinate additional resources to restore power. As a result, crews from as far away as CA were airlifted by the military to help with restoration.  Utilities mobilized employees and contractors and secured approximately 25,000 linemen. However, many of these resources came days after the storm, often because nearby states were holding their own crews in case they were impacted worse than anticipated. With a storm of this magnitude, each utility and State is scrambling for as many resources as they can contract.  Effective utilities bring in both union and non-union labor and utilize non electric employees within the company to serve as damage assessors or live wire down guards. Some companies have also effectively enlisted the support of retirees who know the system and can make excellent damage assessors or even guides for foreign crews.  

The organizational structure supporting the storm response is another critical factor in a successful response.  Effective organizations do not come from paper charts; they are built through years of education, experience, and practice in the form of mock storm drills. The organization should facilitate the entire functioning of the operation, but communications and restoration are paramount.  

The organization must facilitate the timely and accurate flow of information.  Customers and public officials want to know when crews are scheduled to be working in their towns and most importantly, they demand to know when power will be restored. Centralized control and dissemination of this information ensures a consistent message and helps to manage expectations.

The restoration process at many utilities is decentralized during a major storm event so local managers, closest to the damage, can effectively utilize and allocate their resources.  However, too much decentralization runs the risk of a poor allocation of resources resulting from the failure to see the bigger picture which is the entire service territory.  There is a wide range of approaches to this question in the industry and many different models can work; the effective organizations strike the right balance and develop a workforce that understand their roles and are confident in their abilities.

Process and technology

With many customers experiencing power outages for over a week in the aftermath of Sandy and Irene, with an estimate of over seven million customers without power in the Tri-State region, the response by some utilities has drawn the wrath of regulators and politicians.

Mr. Lewis said that a key challenge for accurately issuing ETRs in the aftermath of Sandy has been the utilities' ability to accurately assess, process, analyze and communicate levels of damage caused by the storm. In some areas the effort has required the utility to rebuild entire sections of their electric distribution system. By focusing on a combination of process and technology, utilities can greatly improve this stage of storm response in terms of both a) communication to customers and b) response and restoration:

  • Establish ETR baselines using averages from previous storms and robust analysis of the available resources and estimates of the type and scope of the work to be completed  
  • Leverage mobile technology to report damage in real-time to utility control centers via video-link or picture messaging. Many utilities across the nation are now integrating sophisticated Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), Outage Management Systems (OMS), and mobile technology deployed in the field to greatly improve their ETRs during storms.
  • Optimize websites, mobile platforms and social media to include information for customers on important storm preparations and how it will affect them.

By adopting a rigorous storm response plan that incorporates people, organization, process and technology, utilities will be in the best position to restore customers' power quickly, while simultaneously battling the elements, repairing/replacing damaged infrastructure, recruiting support internally and from utilities across the nation, as well as communicating effectively with their customers, the media, local authorities and regulators.

About PA Consulting Group

PA Consulting Group is a firm of more than 2,000 people, specializing in management and IT consulting, technology and innovation. Independent and employee-owned, we operate globally from offices across Europe and the Nordics, the United States, the Gulf and Asia Pacific.  We work with businesses and governments to anticipate, understand and meet the challenges they face. We have outstanding technology-development capability and a unique breadth of skills, from strategy to performance improvement, from HR to IT. Our expertise covers energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, government and public services, defense and security, transport and logistics, telecommunications, consumer goods and automotive. PA Consulting Group has partnered with energy clients for over 25 years to help them understand the challenges they face and define and implement an effective strategic response. PA Consulting Group has identified best practices that utilities should implement during successful storm response, leveraging client experience our benchmarking programs, and our ReliabilityOne™ and ServiceOne awards, which recognize utilities that have excelled in providing outstanding reliability and customer service.  For more information about PA Consulting Group, visit http://www.paconsulting.com/energy .

CONTACT: Irina Dayton
PA Consulting Group
[email protected]
+1-720-566-9927


SOURCE PA Consulting Group

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.